The Denver Broncos have already made a handful of significant moves prior to the advent of free agency, but fans should expect the franchise to be competitive players in this year’s market.
One of the Broncos’ biggest positional needs is finding a starter at right tackle. In-house options Jared Veldheer and Billy Turner are currently free agents and most certainly could be upgraded upon. That’s why I believe the Broncos are poised to make a big run at Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James.
Weight: 312 lbs
Experience: Five years
James was selected with the 19th selection in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Dolphins. Since then, he has been a five-year starter for the Dolphins, but missed half of the 2015 and 2017 seasons due to injury. James’ career has been filled with ups and downs though he is still regarded as one of the better right tackles in the National Football League.
Over the past three seasons, James has earned a 75.1 overall grade from Pro Football Focus. His best singular grade performance was a spectacular 97.6 rating concerning pass blocking efficiency from his short-lived 2017 campaign. Furthermore, he has been graded as middle-of-the-pack with respect to run blocking over his career ranking 16th best since 2016.
Ja'Wuan James' three-year run-blocking grade ranks in the top third among tackles – adding value in both pass protection & blocking for the run wherever he signs this offseason.https://t.co/oeJXU8BLr7 pic.twitter.com/IozJGVsJoF— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 7, 2019
Why the move makes sense
The potential acquisition of James makes sense for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it addresses a big need at offensive tackle. There aren’t any long-term options on the Broncos’ roster and the overall depth at the position is a cause for concern. Without question, James would immediately provide the franchise with a quality starter at right tackle.
Additionally, he could realize his potential and become a better player under the tutelage of offensive line coach Mike Munchak. The Broncos also brought in former offensive lineman Chris Kuper to be their assistant line coach, who was with the Miami Dolphins as an offensive quality control coach for the past three seasons. Kuper’s familiarity and ties to the former first-round pick also strengthen the argument as to why I believe the franchise will pursue him diligently in in Free Agency.
Why the move doesn’t make sense
It’s hard to find a legitimate reason why pursuing James doesn’t make sense. However, one could argue that his estimated price tag (perhaps $10 million per year) might might be too high given his injury history.
There aren’t many top-tier offensive tackles available in free agency, but James is certainly one of, if not the best options on the market. If the Broncos are able to acquire his services, he would provide an immediate boost to an offensive line that is in desperate need of a starter at right tackle. I believe that James would be able to realize his full potential with the Broncos given the recent hiring of Munchak. It’s a signing that I’m all about and believe it will open up more opportunities for the Broncos in the 2019 NFL Draft.